The Los Angeles Angels hope their bullpen injury troubles have been remedied as they host the Miami Marlins on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Carlos Estevez and Jose Quijada began the season sharing the closing duties. However, with Quijada sidelined for the season following Tommy John surgery, Estevez has assumed the finishing role.
The 6-foot-6, 277-pound Estevez has thrived as a closer in his first year with the Angels, going 12-for-12 in save opportunities. Estevez spent his first six seasons in the majors with the Colorado Rockies.
Estevez was used strictly as a reliever with the Rockies, serving in a variety of roles out of the bullpen. He was just 25-for-47 in save opportunities while pitching half of his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Now pitching closer to sea level in Anaheim, Estevez says the challenges of Coors Field made him better.
"Colorado prepares you for anything," Estevez said. "Every time I came into a game at Coors Field and we had the lead, it was that feeling where I can't let anything happen. They can score three, four, five runs at Coors Field really quick and easy. I think that prepared me to close. I'm a lot more relaxed now. But yeah, if you pitch at Coors, you're ready for anything."
Estevez is 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 22 innings this season for the Angels, who saw their four-game winning streak end Friday with a 6-2 loss to Miami. Estevez did not pitch.
"He's got his opportunity (this season), and he's run with it," Angels manager Phil Nevin said. "He talked in spring training and said he didn't care what role he pitched in, but you could kind of read between the lines. He wants the ball with the lead, and he's earned that right. I think right now, we're just seeing his confidence building."
Shohei Ohtani (5-1, 3.05 ERA) will make his 11th start of the season on the mound Saturday for Los Angeles. In his most recent start as a pitcher last Sunday against Minnesota, the right-hander allowed one run and two hits in six innings while striking out nine before exiting with a no-decision. He has yet to pitch against the Marlins.
Right-hander Edward Cabrera (3-4, 5.05) will make his 11th start this season for Miami.
Cabrera, who is 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds, has experienced trouble throwing strikes at times. His 31 walks are tied for the second most in the National League.
"I still think if he wants to get where he wants to get to, it's the fastball command still, because the off-speed is so good," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. "The curveball's there, the changeup's there. (If) he gets the fastball there consistently, this guy's going to be insane.
"Top of the rotation, he has that kind of stuff. You ask any opposing team or a guy that faced him, it's just like, he's not fun to face when he throws in the zone."
Cabrera has yet to face the Angels.
Marlins outfielder Jorge Soler went deep in Friday's win and has homered in four consecutive games and five of the last six. His 16 homers on the season trail only New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso (19).
--Field Level Media